Tag Archives: Filipino Americans

Pope Benedict gives up his job for Lent–what’s next?

As a die-hard practicing American Filipino Catholic (practice makes perfect, you know), I admit to being startled by the news.

And to think, I was just getting used to Benedict, every bit of his sixteenthness. And now he’s giving up his job for Lent? His job span was but a sixteenth note compared to others’ operatic tenures. What gives?

Was Il Papa really an ill papa?

It’s said he had what I call a real Filipino heart—a pacemaker. But was it really Benedict’s frail health and instability that brought on his departure? (You mean they couldn’t just make a walker version of the Pope-mobile?)

I don’t know what really happened to force his stepping down, or if one could even characterize his leave-taking as an “ouster.” He apparently ousted himself. Still, Benedict has not exactly been an unstoried pope in terms of real headline news.

And I mean headlines far beyond the church bulletin.

In Benedict’s time, $2 billion in settlements were paid out due to priestly sex scandals around the world. Last year, another big scandal involving the pope’s butler revealed inside dirt on Vatican nepotism and corruption.

No one can ever accuse Benedict of being the “good news” pope.

And yet, when the news was released at the start of the week, almost immediately the Vatican spin was apparent. Abdication? No, the pope’s stepping down was an “act of humility.”

Of course it was. And he really does care about the church. So much that he’d rather do his penance as an ex-Pope?

Taking things at face value is an act of faith, which we Catholics are very good at. I don’t question the pope’s motives, really. If he wants to leave, that’s his right.

But the record is pretty daunting. No one EVER abdicates as a pope. It’s just not done. Not in more than 700 years. When the last time something happened was 700 years ago, you better have a pretty good reason for letting it happen now, beyond simply not feeling up to it anymore.

Being pope is a job that comes with ultimate job security. That’s the reason most popes die with their pope hats on.

It’s too good a gig to lose. In fact, you can’t really lose it.

You’re the pope for goodness sakes! The president has a hotline to the Kremlin? The pope has a hotline to God.

Maybe the hotline told him something about how he’s left the church?

That would make the lesson of Benedict’s leaving a reminder that the pope, whomever he is, is really just an ordinary man placed in extraordinary circumstances.

He may be God’s main messenger on earth. But he is just a man. And with that comes all the venal stuff that man can do.

Oh, and isn’t that one of the problems of the church, that it’s all men with a very limited role for women?

Speaking of which, I’d rephrase the idea going around that the pope wants to “make room for a younger man.”

I mean isn’t that what usually why Catholic priests end up leaving?

Maybe the new pope can get to the bottom of that.

Don’t count on it. The cardinals were handpicked by the pope for their deferential nature. Maybe there will be an awakening as the jockeying now begins prior to the vote in the Sistine Chapel.

As an American Filipino, it makes me yearn for the late Cardinal Sin. Having a Pope Sin would have been too cool.

Alas, the new Phiippine Cardinal, Luis Antonio Tagle, in his 50s is perhaps a bit too young to be elevated yet again, having just been been appointed among a group of cardinals from the Third World last October. So a Filipino pope is unlikely.

The name that comes up is Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.

Given all the issues in the church including a a declining flock, gay marriage, women’s role in the church, predator priests, first/third world differences, conservative/liberal divides, contraception, to name just a few items, the church is mired in negativity.

To announce the first black pope? It could be a way to heap history on this historic abdication. And maybe the way to get the church spinning in a more positive and modern direction.

 

Was yesterday the Last BBQ? To prevent heart disease, eat to live

Well, did you eat to live? Or did you live to eat?

Since Labor Day is usually cook-out time,for most that meant skewering up some pork or beef over the grill.

Hope you remembered that the No.1 killer in America is heart disease.

According to the U.S. government, there’s more death related to cardiovascular disease than the combined rates of all other causes of death. That’s more than cancer, suicide, accidents, pneumonia/flu, diabetes, liver or kidney disease.

Of course, that’s never stopped anyone, especially my particular subgroup of Asian America–Filipino Americans–from devouring their BBQ and lechon.

Sound like you?  Then I suggest you watch the recent CNN special , “The Last Heart Attack,” with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  

See it via this link:

The Last Heart Attack– Sanjay Gupta\’s CNN special

The special will give you everything you need to know to save your life, including giving up meat and moving toward a plant-based diet.

The program illustrates the difference between the good (HDL) and the lousy (LDL) cholesterol , and how the lousy cholesterol gets trapped in your arteries as plaque.

Turns out it matters how big the cholesterol chunks are. Bigger ones tend to flow through. Smaller ones tend to get stuck, solidify with other small chunks and cause blockages that result in heart attacks.

To find out whether you have big or small cholesterol coursing through your arteries requires a heart scan.

In the program, Gupta ups the ante by featuring the progress of former President Bill Clinton.  Check out how he went from chili dog chomper to veganism. And he did it all to save his heart.

You can too.

Don’t be fooled by stats released last year. The U.S. Office for Minority Health actually said Asian Americans were doing pretty well with a lower percentage of us with high cholesterol  and high blood pressure vs. the general population.

But that’s no reason to celebrate with some crispy pata.

Break down the numbers ethnically and Filipinos were exposed as among the worse for cholesterol, high blood pressure and hypertension. That’s not a winning trifecta.

Joining us were Native Hawaiians and Japanese.

But ahead of all of us are Asian Indians.  The Asian Indian men were found to have the highest prevalence of heart attacks compared to all, with a heart disease rate three times higher than the U.S. rate. Some doctors say it could mean that the spread of heart disease among Asian Indians is genetic.

In that sense, Gupta’s report is a tad self-serving.  But he does talk to experts who say heart disease doesn’t have to be a fait accompli.  The effects of all that bad eating can actually be reversed—by some timely and healthy eating.

The recommendation: Don’t eat anything that has a face or comes from a mother.

Cow, pig, chicken, fish, aso. OUT.  Whole grains, vegetables, fruits , beans, IN. 

Change your life? Change your food. Heart disease is a preventable, food-born illness.  

You just have to dare not to eat Filipino.

Since 1989, despite a few lapses, I’ve been pretty much vegetarian for selfish reasons. I want to live.

Last week, my sister had this revelation for me.

“I’m taking the same pills as mama,” she said.

I was shocked. She’s just a year older than me, and apparently is on course to mirror my mother and father, health-wise. Both died of heart disease.

My sister, like you, need to watch the aforementioned CNN special.

By eating to live, you can save your life.

Emil Guillermo: How one couple remembers 9-11 as a day of peace, love and family

 They are the perfect antidote to 9-11.

That’s what I call American Filipinos Sam and Gina C. of California, and their kids Malacas and Pinay. (Of course, names have been changed to protect the innocent).

Sam served in the Navy and both he and Gina come from military families. Their 9-11 patriotism cannot be questioned.  They mourn like everyone else the tragic losses on that day.

But instead of dwelling on the negative which can foment the kind of anti-Islamic sentiment we’ve seen crop up with threatened Koran burnings and the like, they are overwhelmed by a different feeling every Sept. 11.

 It’s one of how global peace , love, and family really can triumph over terror.  Again and again.

They just have to recall how they spent their day, Sept. 11, 2001.

The family was on a plane to New York scheduled to land around 9 a.m.

Of course, they didn’t make it.

Gina recalls how the captain suddenly came on the loud speaker. “He said they were experiencing difficulty and they wanted us to land and deplane,” Gina said. “Usually it’s the closest area nearby. We were over Nova Scotia. They took us to Ireland.”

Fans of geography will note how this is not exactly the ideal path one would take to an eventual destination of California, with or without a working GPS. 

But this was supposed to be a unique journey.

ADOPTED PARENTS

When their trip began two weeks prior from California, Sam and Gina were just a middle-aged couple heading to Moscow. After years of fertility doctors and the pain of trying to conceive, Sam and Gina turned to adoption as their option. Af first they turned to the Philippines. But being an older couple worked against them in finding an infant. Then they found a local California agency that suggested they go to Kazakhstan to find a baby in need of a home. 

Sam liked the idea of Kazakhstan. Pre-Borat, few people had ever even heard of the former Soviet satellite. In Kazakhstan, the babies can look a little bit East and a little bit West. The Asian influence is as strong as the Russian ethnic strain. 

“They sent us pictures and videos,” said Sam. “And we could choose the baby we wanted.”

The couple, in their 40s at the time, liked the Asian look of the babies. That was important to them knowing the child would be given a Filipino upbringing.  They felt  it would help the transition in becoming a real family.

The process took less than eight months, and as they went through it, it was too hard to just adopt one. 

They took a pair: Malacas and Pinay.

They call them their Kazapinos.

THE FLIGHT BACK

But getting the newly minted global Pinoy family back to their home in California would be no small feat. Just going from Kazakhstan to Moscow was far from easy. By the time they were on the Moscow to New York leg, crossing the Atlantic, the family thought they were home free.

But then the message on the loudspeaker came on.  And without an explanation they were headed the reverse direction— to Ireland.

Picture this: You are travelling internationally in a cramped space with two kids, ages  3 and 5, one of whom is vomiting intermittently on you.  You don’t speak Kazakh or Russian. The babies don’t know English or Taglish. But their cries and screams are universal. 

Is this not the definition of terror?

When they landed in Dublin, the chaos ensued with hundreds of people scurrying, struggling with their bags. Sam and Gina had their kids.  Nothing made sense until they overheard a reservation agent say the words, “Your country has been attacked.”

“I said, ‘What did he say? ‘“  Sam recalled. “It was crazy. As the news unfolded. I thought, ‘This can’t be real.’’

Then he saw a woman crying uncontrollably. She was on the way to visit her son who worked at the World Trade Center.

“She was hysterical,” said Sam. “All I was thinking was, this can’t be real.”

The shock was tempered by the genuine hospitality they found in Dublin.  If you have to wait out the world’s confusion, there are worst places than Dublin.

Within a few days as the airports in the U.S. opened up, Sam and Gina were headed to Atlanta, one of only two airports opened.

There they spent a few more days, before getting the first flight back to California on the 17th.

But something had happened. Amid the terror and the chaos, a real nuclear family was forged

Today, Malacas, now 12, is malacas (big).  “The doctor’s say he’ll be 6 foot 5 inches,” said Sam, who is about a foot shorter than that.

Pinay, is now 15 and was a local beauty queen winner.

Both she and her brother embrace their unique “Kazapinoness.”

Their parents beam with pride over their kids. And they’re glad they made the step to adopt. Filipinos don’t often choose that option. Some think it’s too hard.
“When we hear that, we tell them our story, “Gina said.

Sam and Gina found something unique in their quest for family. They made the world a little smaller by adopting orphans from a far away place. And on a day that terrorized the world, they forged the strongest gesture of peace, love and family imaginable.

9-11? They know what it means.

“The power of God protected this family,” Sam said. “We’ll always remember it.”